Several medicinal plants come from aboriginal populations, or from the Traditional Medicines of China or India. We only have to think of Ginkgo biloba for blood circulation and memory/cognitive abilities derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine, or saw palmetto for the prostate, whose use comes from the Native Americans who inhabited the Florida Peninsula. A third example is devil’s claw (harpagophytum procumbens). The indigenous peoples of Southern Africa have used it for a wide variety of applications for hundreds of years. It is a desert plant that takes its common name from the claws of its fruits that allow it to cling to the paws or hair of animals to aid in their distribution. Devil’s claw is one of the most widely used medicinal plants around the world.
Plants with unique molecules
In addition to the other two examples mentioned above (the leaves of the ginkgo biloba tree and the fruit of the saw palmetto, serenoa repens), devil’s claw contains unique molecules with great pharmaceutical properties. It is impossible to find equivalent molecules, for these three examples, in our food. For example, some supplements are developed because beneficial molecules, often unique to certain plants, are not available in other types of food. Also, for serious health problems, supplements make it possible to make these molecules available at the dose necessary to allow potential effectiveness.
Several mechanisms of action = fewer side effects
Devil’s claw derives its effectiveness from harpagoside and several other related molecules. Its traditional uses are mainly for arthritis pain and to aid digestion. In terms of pain and inflammation, several studies on the mechanisms of action have clearly demonstrated actions on both Cox-1 and Cox2 (cyclooxygenase; complex of enzymes producing pro-inflammatory molecules), in addition to action on nitric oxide (cellular messenger), on a panoply of pro-inflammatory cytokines, on the activation of NF-κB (modulator of inflammatory processes) and some other mechanisms linked to the regulation of certain genes. A recent study (2020) even demonstrated an impact on the endocannabinoid system (natural fatty acid derivatives of cells, formed from lipids, involved in pain management; a natural painkiller) by emphasizing that the benefits of extracts of this plant come from a large number of mechanisms of action. This multitude of mechanisms bring together synergistic effects, which together allow a significant physiological effect to be achieved without the side effects usually associated with Cox-1 or Cox-2 inhibitors. Thus, the quality extracts of devil’s claw, used in sufficient quantities, are an alternative to the usual anti-inflammatory and pain relievers for which the list of possible side effects is extensive.
Already in 2004, more than 15 years ago, a researcher from the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto published a systematic review of the scientific literature on 12 clinical studies. Gagnier and collaborators (2004) confirmed the quantities of active molecules necessary to have significant effects on pain related to osteoarthritis or non-specific back pain. It is interesting to note that devil’s claw is also a medicinal plant which has accumulated several positive clinical studies of equivalence against drugs; clinical studies in which they compared the effectiveness of natural extracts to commonly used drugs. A systematic review examining the safety of using quality devil’s claw extracts concluded that there was no risk based on 28 clinical studies, 20 of which reported similar side effects to the placebos (about 3%, mainly digestive discomfort). It goes without saying that to assert that there is no study in the field of natural health products can demonstrate a certain lack of knowledge on the subject as well as a poor opinion of the field which can conclude in false claims.
Quality devil’s claw extracts have been shown to be effective with evidence for a variety of ailments. For example, a 2007 clinical study (with 259 patients) demonstrated improvement in overall pain, mobility and function by noting a reduction in pain in the hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees and back. It can therefore have pain relieving effects on virtually the entire human body. Interestingly, there was a significant improvement in their quality of life even though 60% of patients reduced or stopped their pain medication.
Note that a recent toxicology study (Joshi et al., 2020) concluded that its use does not appear to represent any risk.
Quantity and quality issues
Unfortunately, as with many natural health products, devil’s claw extracts on the market vary widely in quality. Quality is all the more important because of the wide variety of active molecules involved in different mechanisms of action. In addition, the response to doses used in clinical studies is not linear and low dosages usually provide no benefit. It is necessary to use the equivalent of 4 to 5 grams of a quality plant to be considered effective.
A more complete product, of high quality
Vitoli® Joints is formulated from the most concentrated commercial extracts in active elements, this extract of devil’s claw, obtained from a patented technology, allows to take the equivalent of 4 to 5 grams of the plant in a single capsule. In addition, this is a double standardization; that is, a double assessment involving different active molecules in order to ensure greater effectiveness. It will help you reduce joint pain and regain the natural use of your joints. Some benefits may be felt during the first 30 days of use (Viljoen et al., 2012), but it is advisable to use the product for 2 to 3 months before seeing the beneficial effects. It also contains olive polyphenols from the Provitol® Complex, exclusive to Vitoli products. The addition of the strongest systemic antioxidants can only benefit the mechanisms of action of devil’s claw where oxidation plays a crucial role.
Here are some testimonials from the testimonial section of the Vitoli website. These are people who wrote to us to thank us and we asked them if we could use their testimonial by mentioning their full name, age and region to show that these are real people:
- This is my third month using Vitoli Joints. In the past two weeks, I have made two climbs at Parc de la Gaspésie, Mount Richardson and Mount Jacques Cartier. This would not have been possible before, since I had to give up mountain biking six years ago and road biking two years ago due to severe pain in my right knee, from wear and tear. According to the doctor, this pain prevented me from even taking my daily walks between 8 and 10 km. I was reduced to two or three 5 km runs per week, but taking Vitoli Joints seems to have given me a second chance. In my case, it’s almost a second life. Michel Langis, 67 years old, Bas-St-Laurent.
- My pharmacist suggested Vitoli to me because they are natural products. For 2 months, I have been using Vitoli Joints. I have seen great improvement in my osteoarthritis. Despite my age, I am very active and now I can climb the stairs, which was very difficult for me before. In addition, for the past week I have been using Vitoli Sleep. Sleeping without waking up every hour because of the pain, is now only a memory. It’s fabulous! Thank you Vitoli. Hélène Duguay, 75 years old, Montérégie.
- I learned about Vitoli products from my pharmacist. I suffered so much and received four injections every quarter of the month. There have been no more injections for several months now. I’m taking Vitoli Joints for my osteoarthritis problems. No more osteoarthritis attacks and I had a walker that I haven’t used since. I’m glad I learned about these products from the pharmacist. Thank you Vitoli! Céline Bégin Marois, 71 years old, Lévis.
Claims permitted by Health Canada for Vitoli® Joints:
- Helps relieve joint pain associated with osteoarthritis during herbal medicine treatments.
- Provides antioxidants.
Other suggested reading
- A Treatment for Fibromyalgia?
- September: Arthritis Month in Canada
- Sleep: Your Ally for a Multitude of Health Problems
- Dragos D, Gilca M, Gaman L, Vlad A, Iosif L, Stoian I, Lupescu O. Phytomedicine in Joint Disorders. 2017 Jan 16;9(1):70.
- Gagnier JJ, Chrubasik S, Manheimer E. Harpgophytum procumbens for osteoarthritis and low back pain: a systematic review. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2004 Sep 15;4:13.
- Georgiev et al, 2013. Harpagoside: From Kalahari Desert to Pharmacy Shelf. Phytochemistry, Aug 2013. 92, 8-15.
- Joshi K, Parrish A, Grunz-Borgmann EA, Gerkovich M, Folk WR. Toxicology studies of aqueous-alcohol extracts of Harpagophytum procumbens subsp. procumbens (Burch.) DC.Ex Meisn. (Pedaliaceae) in female and male rats. BMC Complement Med Ther. 2020 Jan 15;20(1):9.
- Mariano A, Di Sotto A, Leopizzi M, Garzoli S, Di Maio V, Gullì M, Dalla Vedova P, Ammendola S, Scotto d’Abusco A. Antiarthritic Effects of a Root Extract from Harpagophytum procumbens DC: Novel Insights into the Molecular Mechanisms and Possible Bioactive Phytochemicals. Nutrients. 2020 Aug 23;12(9):2545.
- Menghini L, Recinella L, Leone S, Chiavaroli A, Cicala C, Brunetti L, Vladimir-Knežević S, Orlando G, Ferrante C. Devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) and chronic inflammatory diseases: A concise overview on preclinical and clinical data. Phytother Res. 2019 Sep;33(9):2152-2162.
- Viljoen A, Mncwangi N, Vermaak I. Anti-inflammatory iridoids of botanical origin. Curr Med Chem. 2012;19(14):2104-27.
- Warnock M, McBean D, Suter A, Tan J, Whittaker P. Effectiveness and safety of Devil’s Claw tablets in patients with general rheumatic disorders. Phytother Res. 2007 Dec;21(12):1228-33.